Predicting Fertility: When To Take An Ovulation Test

by Sep 16, 2020

Ovulation tests are one of the most common ways to improve your odds of conceiving and knowing when to take your test can make the process much easier.  Taking ovulation tests at the correct time of day will make them more accurate and much more useful to your conception journey – here’s what you need to know about getting the most accurate results in order to better predict your fertility.

woman with a clock

How does an ovulation test work?

You are obviously familiar with what an ovulation test is and why you might need one, but understanding how they actually work can be helpful in using them correctly. 

Ovulation tests or ovulation prediction kits (OPKs) detect the luteinizing hormone or LH surge in the urine to track ovulation. At the beginning of each menstrual cycle, the follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH stimulates multiple ovarian follicles to grow. These ovarian follicles soon increase the production of estrogen, which rises for about 4-5 days leading to ovulation

Right before ovulation, usually within 12-24 hours of ovulation, LH surges sharply and triggers the ovary to release a mature egg. These ovulation kits detect the LH surge in urine to tell you that ovulation is about to occur. Knowing when to test for ovulation matters for getting the best results from your chosen test. 

When is the best time to take an ovulation test for accurate results?

You may think you only need to test on the few days around ovulation. The truth is your cycle length and ovulation day can differ from cycle to cycle. For some digital ovulation tests, you will even have to start right after the period to set the hormone baseline. Here is how to take an ovulation test to get the best results:

  • Start testing a few days before the expected ovulation. To make sure you don’t miss ovulation you will want to start early in the menstrual cycle.
  • The best time of day to take your ovulation test is between 12pm and 8am when you are most likely to experience your LH surge
  • Try not to use the restroom for 2 hours before using the test and limit fluid intake to increase LH urine concentration
  • Test once a day until the result is positive
  • Once you have a positive result in the morning, test again in 6 hours to verify an LH surge
  •  After the first positive result, ovulation usually happens within the next 48 hours.
  • Follow the instructions of the brand you chose. Just like a pregnancy test, a faint second line usually means a negative test result for ovulation.

Unlike traditional tests that require daily testing and the possibility of missing your ovulation, Mira’s smart algorithm dynamically calculates when you need to test based on your personal cycle pattern.       

How do I take the ovulation test with an irregular cycle?

For irregular cycles, the best option is to determine your shortest cycle in the past 6 months. Then consider the current cycle as your shortest cycle. Calculate the expected ovulation day based on it and start testing 3 days before that. Using this simple method will tell you when to start taking ovulation tests. 

Why do I never get a positive ovulation test?

There are multiple explanations of why you might not get a positive ovulation test result:

  • You didn’t use morning urine or the LH concentration has been diluted.
  • You may have tested too early or missed the ovulation. If you have a long or short cycle, your ovulation may have happened earlier or later than the expected day
  • You have a short LH surge. You may have missed it if you only tested once a day.
  • You have a low LH baseline. Most ovulation kits determine your ovulation based on a fixed LH threshold. However, this threshold can be variable for every woman and every cycle. Your ovulation kit gave a false negative result.
  • You didn’t ovulate. You can occasionally miss ovulation for a cycle or two. If this happens to you frequently, seek for doctor’s help.
  •  The test was not performed correctly. For example, you didn’t sample enough urine.

Are ovulation test results 100% accurate?

Nope! Inaccurate results can happen for the reasons below (more on OPK accuracy here):

Your hormone level varies. Using a fixed hormone threshold to determine ovulation doesn’t apply to everyone. Actually, the cycle length and hormone level vary hugely from woman to woman and cycle to cycle. This is why a lot of women had “missed peak” while using an OPK.

Mira’s smart algorithm determines the ovulation based on your personal hormone levels, so you won’t have another “missed peak”.

If you have polycystic ovaries (PCOS), you tend to have elevated LH levels. An OPK will give you positive results all the time but obviously, you are not ovulating continuously. In this case, Mira can track your actual hormone levels and show your unique hormone curve. So you are able to see when ovulation truly happens to you.

You can also monitor the change in your cervical mucus to know better about your body. Basal body temperature can be used to confirm ovulation. But it is not a good method to predict ovulation or help to conceive.

An ovulation test is best when used in conjunction with other methods to give you an accurate guide to your most fertile days. Having as much information as possible about your own ovulation cycle increases your chances of getting pregnant. 

✔️ Medically Reviewed by Dr Roohi Jeelani, MD, FACOG and Lauren Grimm, MA

roohi jeelaniDr Roohi Jeelani is Director of Research and Education at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Dr Jeelani earned her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica. She then completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Wayne State University, Detroit Medical Center, where she was awarded a Women’s Reproductive Health NIH K12 Research Grant. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr Jeelani has authored numerous articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific meetings. A Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Jeelani is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.

Lauren Grimm is Research Coordinator at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, where she also completed her masters in Medical Sciences. Lauren has worked alongside Dr. Jeelani for the last 3 years, authoring a number of abstracts and articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific conferences. Lauren will be continuing her education this fall at Rush University Medical College in Chicago, IL as an MD candidate.

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